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Isuzu NQR 80-190 Review

Geoff Middleton
March, 2018

The Isuzu NQR is billed as the flagship of the N Series range with a GVM of up to 8700kg. The subject of this test isn’t quite the flagship but, at 8000kg, this mid-wheelbase model proved to be a mighty little truck.

Isuzu’s N Series is the small end of town in the company’s huge range of trucks. In the past, we’ve experienced most of the range including the popular and capable 4×4 versions as well as some of the packages on offer like the NNR 45-150 Vanpack.

However, this time we’ve opted for the higher end of the spectrum with the Isuzu NQR 80-190. To clear up the nomenclature a bit, the 80 tells us that the truck has a GVM of 8000kg and the 190 refers to its 190 horsepower engine.

Our test truck was fitted with a standard drop-side tray and we had loaded it with around 2.7 tonnes of concrete. Our weight docket told us that the truck and tray weighed in at 3.94 tonnes, so we were sitting at about 6.64t plus yours truly.

The NQR was fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox that’s well suited to the 5.2-litre turbocharged and intercooled engine that offers 513Nm of torque along with its 190 horsepower.

There is an auto version of this truck that comes with Isuzu’s six-speed automated manual transmission which is becoming increasingly popular. And there are also double-cab versions available if you need room for the crew.


Climbing aboard the NQR, I first got a sense of space. It’s a roomy cab for sure, but the feeling is enhanced by the big windscreen, low waistline and thin A-pillars. This not only gives the sense of more room in the cab, but really enhances the vision from the comfortable driver’s suspension seat which comes standard.

Also of note is the abundance of storage in the cab. There’s overhead storage above the driver and outside passenger plus door pockets, a fold-down central work station and more dedicated storage behind the seats. There are two pull-out cup holders in the centre of the dash and, if I was being picky, I’d say there could be one more a bit handier to the driver.

The gauges are basic with the standard speedo, tacho and fuel and temp with the rest being handled by lights.

Of course, there is Isuzu’s obligatory DAVE (Digital Audio Visual Entertainment) unit with its 6.2-inch touchscreen with digital radio, CD, 4GB internal storage, USB, and standard reversing camera with audio so you can hear as well as see the crash you’re having as you try to park.

The manual transmission model gets a hill-hold function but doesn’t get the cruise control which is limited to the auto. There’s also an exhaust brake activated on the left-hand stalk which I found handy in traffic. It doesn’t give a lot of retardation but sometimes it’s just enough to help slow the truck down in the slow stuff.

It is a bit weird getting into a modern truck these days and not seeing any controls on the steering wheel. But that’s the case with the NQR. I’d like to see at least some of the audio controls on the wheel, but I guess that’s for a future model.


On the safety front, the NQR 80-190 is fitted with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, stability control and anti-skid regulator.

The driver and outside passenger get air bags as well as seatbelt pre-tensioners.

It’s worth noting that there are also cornering lights on the bottom of the front doors that come on when you use the indicators with the lights on. I found them quite handy and an added safety feature.

For better handling there are also front and rear stabiliser bars.


On the road, the NQR pulls well from around 1100 or 1200 revs. Maximum torque is available from 1600rpm right through to 2600rpm which is also peak power.

If you look at the power and torque curves for the engine you can see that after 2600rpm, both power and torque drop off quite dramatically. There is really no reason to the rev the engine because there’s nothing there.

The NQR hauled our pretend load really well and it never struggled, either in town on the open road. Cruising the freeway in overdrive sixth gear was effortless and at 100km/h we were spinning at 2000rpm – right in the middle of the torque band.

At 90km/h we were doing 1800rpm and at 80km/h the engine was spinning at 1600rpm, which it was still happy to hold without a down-change. This made for some pretty economical running.

Over the period we had the truck, we did a combination of freeway cruising, peak hour traffic on the run to work and back and a little inner city driving. In our real-world test with our pretend load on board, we managed to get 15.5L/100km or 6.45km/lt which is pretty damn good for a 5.2-litre turbo-diesel. That would give a theoretical range of around 900 kilometres from the standard 140-litre tank.

Another highlight of the NQR 80-190 Mid-Wheelbase was its manoeuvrability. For a vehicle with an overall length of just under six metres and a wheelbase of 3.4 metres, it’s not a small truck but it’s highly manoeuvrable with a turning circle of just 12.4 metres.

To put that into perspective, it’s the same as the quoted figure for the latest Nissan Navara dual-cab ute.


I had a great time in the NQR 80-190. It’s a comfortable and willing little truck that would lend itself to all kinds of different tasks around town; in fact, it’s available as a factory tipper, or with tray or van bodies.

It’s economical, highly manoeuvrable and versatile and a truck that should help keep Isuzu the top-selling truck brand in the country for the 30th year in a row.

Specifications: Isuzu NQR 80-190 MWB
Engine: 4HK1-TCC four-cylinder 18 valve SOHC turbocharged intercooled diesel
Displacement: 5.2 litres
Max power: 140kW (190hp)
Max Torque: (513Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual (six-speed auto option)
Suspension front: Single stage alloy steel taper leaf springs
Suspension rear: Multi-leaf main spring, multi leaf helper spring
Wheels: 19.5 x 6.00 six stud steel
Tyres: 225/70R19.5 Michelin XZE Tubeless
Fuel tank: 140 litre steel